Leadership (Abuja)

27 December 2011

Nigeria: Community, Group Raise Alarm Over Spread of Spillage From Shell's Bonga Field

Fishermen and indigenes of the Odioma Community in Nembe-speaking Ijaw Community of Brass local government area of Bayelsa State on Tuesday raised an alarm over the gradual spread of crude oil spill suspected to be from Shell's Bonga Field into the rivers and waterways of the community and other parts of the State.

The thick sign of the spillage from Shell's Bonga field has already been sighted along the Fish camp 2 at the Vanish Island and the St. Nicholas cove along the Atlantic shoreline close to Odioama on the fringes of the Atlantic Ocean in Brass local government area of Bayelsa State.

A report released to LEADERSHIP by the Environmental Campaign group, known as the Environmental Rights Action (ERA) and Friends of the Earth (FoEN),showed that the indigenes of the community are gripped by the fear of massive pollution of the river by the spillages and a threat to the means of their livelihood.

The report by the Field Monitors of the group on their interaction with some community elders in Odioma including Elder James Sampson aka Ovie Kokori, Danyo Ogoniba and Ayeomane Ayela, confirmed the thick presence of the spillage moving into the rivers of the community in Bayelsa.

According to Mr. Lucky Tema, "I have been in this fishing camp here in Odioama for about twelve years now. I am an Ilaje man and fishing is my main occupation; that's what I do here. As you can see I am just returning from the ocean. If you go into the ocean you will find the thick slick of crude oil floating, tossed here and there by the waves. It is spreading according to the direction of the current. That is what we are seeing even right here at the waterside on St. Nicholas.

"As a fisherman, one of the things I know about this crude oil is that, apart from killing aquatic life, it chases away the fishes that used to be around. If our nets get in contact with the crude oil it will stain the nets and, because of the smell and colour, fish will notice and avoid such nets in the water. You can see the little catch that I returned with. This is not how it used to be.

Our efforts are yielding far below expectation these days."

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